There is a vaccine available called Gardasil™ that can protect against four types of HPV infections – types 6, 11, 16 and 18. These types cause 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts.
How does Gardasil™ work?
- Gardasil™ provides protection against HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18. HPV types 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts. HPV types 16 and 18 cause 70% of cervical cancers.
- Being vaccinated will significantly lower the chances of getting both genital warts and cervical cancer. Gardasil™ is expected to provide long-term protection.
- The vaccine does not protect against all HPV types that cause cervical cancer, therefore sexually active vaccinated women must continue to have regular Pap tests.
Who should get Gardasil™?
Gardasil™ is recommended for girls and women aged 9 to 45 years.
- It is best to receive Gardasil™ before becoming sexually active, although sexually active women can still be vaccinated.
- Once women are sexually active, the chances of being exposed to HPV infection increase.
- Public funding is available for Grade 8 girls to receive the vaccine free through a school-based program. Participation in the HPV vaccine program is voluntary. It is not required for school attendance under current law in Ontario (Immunization of School Pupils Act).
- In 2012 Public funding of HPV vaccine was expanded to include girls in grades 9 to 12.
- Other females aged nine to 45 can see their doctors and pay for the vaccine. The three shots cost between $400 and $500. Some health Insurance plans may cover the cost of the vaccine.
Who should not get Gardasil™?
- Women who are, or may be, pregnant. (They should be vaccinated once they deliver.)
- Anyone who is sick with a fever or infection worse than a cold.
- Anyone who is allergic to any components of the vaccine or who has a yeast allergy.
How is Gardasil™ given?
Three doses of Gardasil™ are recommended. The second and third doses are given at two months and six months.
What are the side effects of Gardasil™?
- The most common side effect is redness, tenderness and swelling where the vaccine was given.
- Fever, nausea, dizziness and headaches can occur.
- Allergic reactions such as hives, wheezing or swelling of the face and mouth can happen, but rarely do, after any vaccine. If these symptoms occur, seek medical attention right away.
If you have any questions or need more information, please contact a member of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Program by calling the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit at 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623.